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Posted: February 22, 2021

Eligibility expanded for work experience grants

The third intake of the province’s Work Experience Opportunities Grant has broader eligibility requirements.

“Based on feedback we received during the first two intakes, we’re broadening the grant’s eligibility criteria,” said Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “By doing this, we’ll be able to help more people in need access paid work experience opportunities.”

The $10-million Work Experience Opportunities Grant is part of B.C.’s $10-billion COVID-19 response.

The grants were established in 2020 for non-profit organizations, allowing them to apply for $5,000 per participant for 12-week work experience placements.

In the third intake, eligibility criteria have been expanded in three areas:

* Organizations can increase the number of participants they provide work experience to from five to 10.

* Private-sector businesses, social enterprises and non-profit organizations can apply.

* Any person qualified to receive income assistance or disability assistance, as well as Indigenous peoples on reserve qualified to receive federal assistance, can now be considered as a participant. For the first two intakes, only people with disabilities or persistent multiple barriers to employment were considered eligible participants.

Under the new eligibility criteria, applications will be accepted until midnight, March 8.

“We are thrilled to be able to provide this opportunity to five individuals who’ve been working hard to improve their mental wellness and ended up losing ground with COVID-19,” said Maureen Davis, executive director, Canadian Mental Health Association Northern BC Branch. “This 12-week work experience will help them regain ground lost while also learning how to manage anxiety that has been heightened by the COVID experience.”

The grants include a stipend for participants and are projected to help 2,000 British Columbians gain the work experience needed for long-term employment opportunities.  At the end of the work placement, participants can receive help from WorkBC centres to leverage their work experience into other employment opportunities, a Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction media release stated.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, an estimated 5,000 people receiving income and disability assistance have experienced job loss. More than 115 organizations applied to the first two intakes of the Work Experience Opportunities Grant.

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